The Vankleek Hill senior has spent almost her entire life giving to others, whether it involves money, time, or even one of her own kidneys.
Page was the eldest of 11 children in her family, and she helped raise her younger siblings in addition to her own chores and other activities. As an adult, when her sister needed a kidney transplant, Vera was there to help give her sister a new start on life.
Now the 83-year-old mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother is ready to keep on giving thanks to a $60 million windfall she got with her winning Lotto Max ticket in the November 1 draw. Her family will be the first to benefit from her newfound wealth.
Almost missed the jackpot
Page has been a regular lottery player for four decades but she almost missed her chance at getting her winning ticket. She told OLG officials that her usual practice is to buy her lotto tickets during her weekly outings to the grocery store.
« When the staff at my retirement home rescheduled our weekly trip, I got on my motorized scooter and went to the store myself, » she stated. « As I was checking out, I remembered to buy my Lotto Max and my 649, both with the Encore (numbers). When I got home, I tucked the tickets under my computer until the draw. »
When news reports announced that the $60 million ticket was sold in the Prescott-Russell region, Page checked her own ticket. Even as she confirmed that all seven of the numbers on her ticket matched, she still could not believe it herself, and she also had difficulty getting in touch with her family and convincing them that she had won.
« It was close to 9 p.m. when I called my son, Trevor, but he didn’t answer his phone, » she stated, laughing. « Then I called my daughter-in-law, and she didn’t answer either. I finally got a hold of my other daughter-in-law, but she didn’t believe me and told me to go to sleep. »
Next she tried telling some of her friends at the retirement home about her big win. But they were all still in bed and half-asleep. She herself was up most of the night with excitement and thinking about this life-changing moment for her.
Sharing the excitement
The next morning Page’s son, Trevor, returned her call. When he understood what had happened, he raced to her apartment.
« I told him that we have to go to Foodland where I bought the ticket to validate it, and make sure I wasn’t seeing things, » she stated. « We were in such a rush that I put on a pair of pants over my nightgown, threw on a jacket, and went to the store half-dressed. When I gave my ticket to the clerk, the bells and whistles went off and the clerk yelled that i had won BIG. »
Page noted that her anxiousness vanished at the news but now her son was excited.
« I felt very calm for some reason, » she stated. « I’ve been trying to keep my family members calm and grounded ever since learning of this news. They are extremely happy for me. »
Her son told OLG officials that his mother has worked hard all of her life, and given back so much to her family, and that he is thrilled that she won her prize at a time when she can enjoy it.
« She helped raise all her siblings, » he stated. « She raised our family while working as a personal support worker. In 1983, when her younger sister fell ill and needed a kidney transplant, my mom found out she was a match and didnt’ hesitate to donate one of her kidneys that saved her sister’s life. She is so deserving of this good fortune. »
The bucket list
Now Vera Page has the happy task of deciding what to do with her new wealth.
« I want to purchase a piece of land along the Ottawa River and build a new double-family house for myself and my son’s family, » she stated. « I have always wanted to experience an Alaskan cruise, and am planning for that trip. The winters in Eastern Ontario are cold, so I would like to spend them in a warmer climate. But the summers are wonderful, so I want to get a big boat that many people can sleep on and tour the Ottawa River. Most importantly, I will share my winnings with my family. I want to take care of their futures. »
But before she starts working on her « bucket list » the first thing Page plans to do is just for her.
« I getting new hearing aids, » she stated, adding that she also plans to keep playing the lotto for fun.
The OLG held a winner’s celebration for Vera Page at its Toronto office and recorded a video interview with her. To see the video click on the following link. The link will remain active, with no password needed, for a 30-day period.
Winner’s Celebration Video: